Zoar Outdoor was established in 1989 to offer outdoor adventures in the Deerfield River Valley and beyond. Our staff of over 100 consists of friendly professionals from all walks of life ranging in age from 18 – 65 years.
Many of our staff are cross-trained in several areas, enabling them to work as a raft guide, kayak instructor or climbing teacher. It is not uncommon to find a high school math teacher, a nurse or a lawyer guiding one of our rafts or teaching in a kayak. The versatility of our team members allows our staff to provide excellent service to our guests and to make each Zoar Outdoor adventure truly memorable.
Janet Burnett Cowie – General Manager
Janet Burnett Cowie
Janet Cowie has been part of the Zoar Outdoor team since 1996 and now holds the position of General Manager. As the leader of a values driven company, her focus is on building teams that nurture a growth mindset. She has been involved in all aspects of the business including overseeing logistics, retail, marketing and instruction programs. With her people skills and expertise, she has helped to grow the paddlesport program into one of the premier kayak programs in the country.
Janet started whitewater paddling in 1983 when she joined the University of Massachusetts Outing Club and rivers continue to be a main force in her life as they connect us to the natural world and to each other. She continues to be actively involved with the American Canoe Association and is a ACA Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer Educator, Level 3 River Canoe Instructor Trainer and Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor. In 2011 Janet received ACA’s Excellence in Instruction Award. She helped to organize the first Whitewater Symposium at Zoar Outdoor in 2003 and again in 2009. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts.
She lives in the hills of Franklin County and when not at work you can find her frolicking in the woods with her Border Collie who is too smart for his own good.
Grace Plunkett – Office Manager
Grace has recently returned to New England from the NY Metro Area and is happy to be back in touch with her mountain roots! She brings years of experience in Customer Service and procedural management to the team. She strives to help our guests find the perfect adventure and is busy in the winter months preparing for the next season. Grace connects with organizations and guests to help bring them to the outdoors and build memorable experiences for all.
In her free time, Grace goes on nature adventures with her dog, plays guitar, and spends time with family. Chances are high that if you call the office you will get to chat with her!
Nate Marr – Director of Marketing
Director of Marketing
Brian Pytko -Rafting Operations Manager
Rafting Operations Manager
A former high school social studies teacher and baseball coach, Brian started rafting with Zoar Outdoor back in 2000, and took over the Rafting Manager responsibilities in 2009. Forever a teacher at heart, Brian oversees new guide training and development, is an ACA swift water rescue instructor, and even does a little snowboard instructing during the off-season. Brian’s Wilderness First Responder Certification, intuitive river sense, dedication to customer service, and uncanny attention to detail ensures that Zoar’s rafting trips and guided kayaking trips run smoothly and safely.
Davis Britland – Seasonal Rafting Manager
Seasonal Rafting Manager
Davis got his first taste of whitewater here at Zoar Outdoor back in 2017. He’s been here since, entertaining guests in both the trees and on the river. He’s rafted all over New England and is constantly looking for new rivers to explore. Whether it’s careening down a mountain on a snowboard in the winter months or peddling back up on a mountain bike when it’s warmer, you can usually find him enjoying the outdoors with his friends.
Jim Sullivan – Director of Paddlesports
Paddlesports Operations Manager
Jim has been paddling the rivers of New England since learning to kayak as a teen near Springfield, Massachusetts. He is an avid river runner, playboater and all-around paddler. He has run every rapid on the Dryway on a standup paddleboard (upright) at least once! He works closely with Amanda providing leadership in our Paddlesports programs.
Amanda Major – Paddlesports Manager
Amanda joined the Zoar Outdoor team in 2017 as a whitewater kayaking instructor. From the moment she slid into the Deerfield River in a whitewater kayak with the Hampshire College outdoor program, she wanted to spend lots of time paddling and focusing on bringing more people into the sport.
During her time as an outdoor educator, Amanda has worn an assortment of hats—mindfulness outdoor leader, wilderness therapy guide, and instructor. Before her shift to the outdoors, she worked an officey job as a program coordinator for a national reproductive justice organization. She feels passionately about merging her love for the outdoors with her social justice values. Finding ways to make outdoor experiences accessible and inclusive for everyone makes her heart sing. She loves teaching wet exits and talking people through their mental game.
When she isn’t kayaking or supporting the Zoar Outdoor Paddlesports team, she enjoys mountain biking, spending quality time with lovely people, and trying to teach herself how to juggle.
Meghan Ecclesine – Zip Line Canopy Tour Manager
Zip Line Canopy Tour Manager
Meghan first discovered Zoar in a guidebook before she moved from Michigan to Western Massachusetts to work as an Environmental Education and Trail Building Intern in a nearby state forest. Working nearby, she connected with Zoar and instantly wanted to be a part of the team. She joined the first crew of Zipline Guides in 2009 and has worn many hats at Zoar including Assistant Zipline Manager, Raft Guide, and starred in various Zoar YouTube videos!
Meghan has years of experience working in customer service and loves to help make your adventure fun and memorable. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, making art, canoeing, mountain biking, snowboarding and traveling. Swing by our Zip base; Meghan will be excited to meet you!